A witness has told the state capture inquiry he gave former SA Express commercial manager Brian van Wyk R300 000 in cash in early 2016 thinking that Van Wyk wanted to purchase a classic car "on short notice".
Vivien Natasen, the sole director of consultancy Neo Solutions, was testifying before the inquiry for a second time after giving evidence in July about a joint business partnership he was considering entering into with Van Wyk in late 2015.
The inquiry is investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud at state entities.
On Thursday he testified that Van Wyk called him while he was on holiday in early 2016 asking him for the money for a car. He said was aware that Van Wyk, like him, had an interest in classic cars.
In response to a question from evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr, Natasen said that Van Wyk did not refer to the need for cash for an ANC birthday celebration when asking for the R300 000. The commission did not delve into what the money was spent on, with Hofmeyr suggesting this may be revealed in later testimony. Van Wyk has not yet testified at the inquiry.
Natasen said the cash was offset by monies that he already owed Van Wyk as part of a joint business agreement.
He told the inquiry on Thursday he now feels he was "inadvertently used by Mr Van Wyk".
Cash on hand
He told the inquiry he happened to have cash on hand when Van Wyk called, as he had recently sold one of his own classic cars - an Aston Martin - and the buyer had paid him a portion of the proceeds in cash. Following on from Van Wyk's call, he called his brother to retrieve the R300 000 from a safe at his house.
Hofmeyr asked him why he had R300 000 in cash, when the car sale only went through in September 2018. In response, Natasen said the collector he sold the car to had paid the R300 000 as a down payment to secure the car in December 2015, and the remainder in September 2018.
'I didn't think anything of it'
Natasen said he didn't ask Van Wyk about what car he had bought when he returned from holiday. "A week or two transpired when I got back and then obviously I didn’t think anything of it," he said.
He added that given what he now knows, it doesn't surprise him the money wasn't spent on a car. At his previous appearance before the commission in July, Natasen testified how R9.9m was paid into the bank account of Neo Solutions by Van Wyk to "hold", which at the time he thought may be invested in a proposed joint farming venture. He testified he understood the R9.9m to be a dividend from one of Van Wyk's private businesses or business ventures.
At the time he told the inquiry's chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that "with the benefit of hindsight" it was clear that Van Wyk wanted to hide the funds.
Natasen previously told the inquiry the R9.9m was paid into an account of Neo Solutions by a company called Koreneka Projects and Trading. Earlier on Thursday, the inquiry heard that Babadi Tlatsana, Koreneka's director, had fled South Africa, saying she fears for her safety.